Daniel Ricciardo admits there is a sense of relief at Renault as a result of its strong Canadian Grand Prix after a difficult start to the season.
The opening six races saw Renault pick up just three point-scoring results, totaling 14 points after Monaco. However, the team doubled its tally with sixth and seventh in Montreal on Sunday, and after moving to within two points of fourth-placed McLaren in the constructors’ championship, Ricciardo says the return to form takes some of the pressure off at Renault.
“The first double points of the year — it has been a long time coming,” Ricciardo said. “To get sixth and seventh is big. McLaren without points. It is encouraging for us. We will build on this. I am glad that the team is in a good place now. A bit of relief for everyone. It has been pretty stressful at times this year but I am glad we can enjoy a strong weekend.”
Ricciardo — who joined Renault from Red Bull ahead of this season — started fourth on the grid after a hugely impressive qualifying performance, and while he was unable to hold on to that starting position he says the way he could fight with Valtteri Bottas was a further positive.
“I knew from my starting position that the race was probably going to be more of a defense than an attack. Actually in the end to beat one of them (Red Bull) is strong. Sixth and seventh was strong.
“The most positive thing was holding off Bottas for so long, and just being in that fight with a Mercedes for a few laps was cool. I would have loved to have done it with Max (Verstappen) as well but he was coming with too much pace at the end with that tire, so he got me very easily.
“With Bottas, what it showed was that even though he had DRS we still had pretty good straight-line speed. I feel there we have bridged the gap a lot. So still a lot of work to do but it certainly is looking good.
“When he came up behind me, I thought he was going to get me easily. I was going to try and defend one lap but if he got me, I was not really going to fight to the edge. I held him off one lap and then saw in my mirrors that maybe he will start to hurt his tires a bit, so from that point I was like, ‘Let’s have some fun.’
“I hurt my tires a bit doing it, but it was worth it. I didn’t think I’d hold him off for that many laps. You could tell that he was getting a bit agitated. I was enjoying it.”